Obituary – Professor Bob Logan

Robert Logan, Professor of the Organisation of Medical Care at the School from 1967 until 1982, has died peacefully on Friday 2 September, at the age of 99.

Professor Logan (known to all his friends and colleagues as Bob) was a pioneer in research and teaching in the field of Health Services Research in the 1960s, winning widespread recognition for studies on hospital admission rates and lengths of stay, originally conducted in Liverpool. He participated in one of the earliest international studies of health care covering North and South America, and Western and Eastern Europe, followed by a second major international study; both proved highly influential.

Born in Bangor, Northern Ireland, in 1917, Bob gained his medical degrees at Queens University, Belfast. During World War Two, he undertook his residency in Salford Royal Hospital and from 1942 served as a Troopship Medical Officer as Surgeon Lieutenant Commander, and organised health control of merchant seamen at their Liverpool base.

After the war, he won a Nuffield Fellowship in Industrial Medicine, and was Visiting Fellow at the MRC’s Social Medicine Research Unit in London. In 1950, he moved to the University of Manchester as Lecturer in Industrial Medicine. He was appointed Reader in Social Medicine in 1954 and Director of the Medical Care Research Unit in 1962. Here over a 5-year period he conducted pioneering research on variations in hospital admission rates and lengths of stay. The NHS Hospital Plan had identified the need for district hospitals serving populations of around 250,000, and had proposed a target of 3.3 acute beds per 1000. The critical question was how many beds should such a hospital have?

In the Liverpool region the figure at the time was unusually high at 5.6 beds per 1000, and Logan was invited by the Regional Board, the Ministry of Health and Nuffield to investigate. The study involved the analysis of trends and variations in administrative statistics on beds, staffing levels, admission rates and lengths of stay for hospitals within the region, with other NHS regions, and with comparable areas in Sweden and the USA. These were supplemented with a range of methodologically innovative studies: community surveys of symptom severity and demand for elective surgery; interviews with consultants about clinical policies; surveys of long-stay patients, the relationship between length of stay and social class; surgical volume, efficiency and costs, and studies of the accuracy of hospital statistics and the labelling of hospital beds.

Bob was also dedicated to innovative teaching and curriculum development. One of his first achievements at the School was, with Professor Jerry Morris, to develop the new MSc in Social Medicine, in partnership with LSE. The course appointed joint staff, including Jenny Roberts, and Bob drew on his extensive research networks to devise a coordinated programme examining district-level services in eight European countries. This provided the core of the European Collaborative Health Services Studies, which for many years was the principal research activity of the Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER).

Despite officially retiring in 1982, Bob has continued to be in great demand for advice on public health training and organization all over the world. Among many other honours, he was awarded a Centenary Honorary Fellowship of the School in 1999. He was a devoted teacher and long after his retirement, was a mentor and confidant to a loyal and extensive international network of alumni. Bob will be much missed, and our condolences and best wishes are with his family.

Photo courtesy of Richard Logan

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